For those of you who missed it, Liz Cheney wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the eve of Reagan railing against Medicare. I myself only saw it yesterday from reading Krugman's blog. It has since been described as "bonkers," "deranged," and "a rather extraordinary work in delusion". Indeed, Obama is the veritable Boogie Man under Cheney's bed, responsible for all that is woe in thine realm.
It's a real shame this didn't come out sooner, or Liz would have likely had made the cut into the March to Madness. If we have more of this to look forward to, though, I imagine seeing her next year.
All the coverage on this diatribe has focused primarily on the previously mentioned Reagan parallel. There is so much irony and facepalm that it is quite the enticing morsel to ignore. However, it was a different part of her essay that spoke loudest to me, though not for the reasons one might initially think.
As a fellow kossack pointed out in a related diary, you "could write individual blog posts on almost every paragraph in her diatribe."
I'm going to stake my claim to one of those paragraphs.
This is the paragraph:
Al Qaeda is resurgent across the Middle East. President Obama stood by and did nothing when its affiliates in Libya killed the U.S. ambassador and three other brave Americans in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11. Then he and his administration misled the American people about the attack. Today, more than six months later, no one has been held to account. The clear message of this episode to America's enemies around the world is: Attack us with impunity. You will suffer no consequences.A diary could target the hypocrisy alone in this paragraph.
The obvious hypocrisy is blaming Obama for a terrorist attack on his watch, on 9/11, even though the GOP refuse to place blame for 9/11 itself on the Bush administration, which was many times more costly than Benghazi. It is hypocritical to complain that nobody within the Obama administration has been held accountable for Benghazi, when the same can be said about Bush and 9/11 (Indeed, the refusal of the Obama administration to prosecute anyone over 9/11 should legitimately be considered one of his most serious black marks). Cheney, if you seriously want people within the administration to stand trial and be held accountable for Benghazi, I am in full support of that as long as we start first with 9/11. It is hypocritical to blame the Obama administration for failing to secure the Libyan embassy when Republicans have spent the past few years defunding embassy security, including cuts included in the sequester they facilitated (to be fair, those cuts were eventually reversed). It is hypocritical to deny that Benghazi was the direct result of the type of society Republicans lobby for here: a militia of armed citizens violently deposing a tyrannical government. Finally, this isn't so much hypocritical as perhaps ironic, but Cheney ends by saying "The clear message of this episode to America's enemies around the world is: Attack us with impunity. You will suffer no consequences." Perhaps the message to America's enemies after 9/11 is: Attack us and we will overextend ourselves and send ourselves into recession sabotaging our own economy that you ideologically hate making your jobs of recruiting others and killing Americans and painting the US as the aggressor in your countries far easier. If that's the message we're supposed to be sending, then perhaps miscommunication can be good sometimes. I'll stop there but I have no doubt there are many more ways to point out the hypocrisy.
Of course Republican hypocrisy over Benghazi is practically mainstream by now. Few political dog whistles convey the same amount of anti-establishment, patriotically xenophobic, privileged hysteria in such a single, foreign-sounding name as "Benghazi," ever since even the most crazed of media outlets abandoned shoehorning Obama's middle name when mentioning him every single time.
This diary is not about the hypocrisy per se, but about the larger lessons we can learn from this single issue.
The largest lesson we should take away from this rant is that the scenario Cheney uses to frame her piece, the risk of the Republican party moving to the left, is not actually happening. If anything, the exact opposite seems to be happening.
Cheney's title implies that Republicans are on the verge of solemn self-reflection and flipping on the issues that have put them at odds with over half of the general electorate. If anything, it appears that the opposite is occurring. The Republicans are as far to the right as ever, and Liz Cheney has nothing to worry about, except the Big, Bad, Obama, apparently.
You would think the way she writes we would be seeing more Jon Huntmans, when all we're getting are more Eastwood chairs: rigid, perplexing, and empty.
Look at the emergence of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Reince Priebus, and now Liz Cheney. Throw in the maintained presence of the stalwarts like Bachmann, Cantor, Walker, and Perry, and what is left? What we have now is an even more inflexible, tone-deaf, misguided, and detached from reality GOP than the GOP we had before the elections, which is something I never would have thought possible. The GOP have essentially decided that the recipe they used in the run-up to the 2012 elections and eventually caused them massive losses, yeah that was fine and let's get more of that please.
As kos has been pointing out since the elections, the Republican party is stuck in a losing battle. However, if we do not capitalize on this and sweep as many of them out of power as possible, the country will end up losing as well. It is not enough to sit in the bleachers and watch the self-destruction unfold. We must do our best to harness this chaos within the GOP and use it to marginalize their policies and pigeonhole their leaders into the unsavory categories with which they rightfully belong. The stranglehold over American politics that the Republicans hold is strong enough that the emergence of a few more crazies is apparently a drop in the bucket.
So back to the lesson. The fear should not be that Republicans suddenly make an about-face and bring their stances more in line with the general public. The fear should be that the GOP are largely allowed to get away with their mendacious rhetoric and unrepentant obstruction without serious repercussions in public opinion and at the polls. So as deranged and foolish as the GOP gets, until we change the trends in the polls, the GOP will always be, at best, competitive.
The Republican party is not trying to purge itself of these toxic members. All they do is try to corral them in. What often happens is that they use the softening factors of time to allow their most heinous activities to escape the minds of voters. To counter these efforts, we must do our best to make sure their insanity remains a significant part of the political landscape, making it harder for them to distance themselves. We must make sure they remain serious liabilities to the GOP.
Liz Cheney is not a marginal figure. She has name-recognition. She has served in the Bush administration. Her alleged field of expertise is supposed to be foreign policy. This was not written in Comic Sans on some conspiracy-theory website by a nameless internet troll. This was published by the Wall Street Journal. Wall. Street. fucking. Journal. As much as the Republican Party would like to characterize these loonies as the far fringe of their party, and removed from significant influence, the fact is that they are systematically setting these people up as their leadership figures. And they should be called out for it. If these are the people running the asylum, imagine what the inmates are like.
Lastly, we should take home the lesson that these people should be as far removed from influencing policy as realistically possible, yet are still given far more opportunities than they deserve to do so. Complacency is a real concern for the mainstream Democratic movement. So to is their recent and sustained tendency to cave on the serious issues where they butt heads the hardest with the GOP. Just look at the travesty that became filibuster "reform." As much as we want to place the blame completely in the laps of the lunatics, there is reason to call out the mainstream Democratic party for enabling this behavior. Now is not the time to be urging bipartisanship. Cooperation only makes sense when both sides have confidence in the other. Cooperation makes sense between the FBI and state police trying to track down a serial killer, maybe even an incarcerated Hannibal Lecter. Seriously, the current Republican Party makes Hannibal Lecter look like a sensible choice for crime-fighter. Or a more concise analogy, you don't put an arsonist in charge of the fire department.
This is not a party threatening to better itself and yet this party still poses a threat. So long as it's a party content to invoke hypocrisy-red-flags like Benghazi, the Republican Party will continue to be the gutter of political integrity. This is both an opportunity and a responsibility to ensure this aspect becomes a liability to them in future elections, to always have to first defend their strange bedfellows, until they finally, grudgingly change their ways, which I don't see happening for a very long time. So long as the Republican party cares more about upholding their so-called principles over actually accomplishing something for the benefit of the country, we must respond, not by ignoring them and appeasing their petty rants, but by calling them out for the crazies and bigots that they are, and make sure they get their well-deserved share of the blame for the damage they, and the people they choose to be their representatives, are doing to this country.
If Liz Cheney thinks what really needs to be done is urging the Republicans to resist moving to the center or left, then she's wrong, on so many levels, and all it takes is a few sentences about Benghazi to prove it.